Adam Ozimek in today’s Atlantic has a fascinating and respectful analysis of Diane Ravitch’s journey from the education historian “who once wrote so passionately and doggedly in favor of school choice and accountability from the halls of the Hoover Institute” to the “Diane Ravitch who now writes reform criticisms with the hyperbole and one-sidedness of a teacher’s union spokesperson”:
I think one can criticize Ravitch for failing to follow her remaining Hayekian wisdom and criticisms through to their natural conclusion, or for applying them unevenly. For instance, she criticizes the Gates and other foundations for being a powerful centralized force that overrides the autonomy of local forces, calling them “bastions of unaccountable power” who are not “subject to public oversight or review”, and “have taken it upon themselves to reform public education, perhaps in ways that would never survive the scrutiny of voters in any district or state”. But she fails to apply the same criticisms to the powerful teachers unions, about whom all of the above could be said, and who lobby state governments for centralized rules that favor their members.
Teachers unions do not require public oversight and review because they are a bargaining body for their members and not the public. People forget that it takes two sides to make a contractual agreement. The employer (who represents the public) must not only be satisfied with the agreement, but must approve the agreement. There are no overly powerful forces at work here. If a school board does not approve of the proposals of a teachers union, it simply does not approve the proposal, there is no agreement, and both parties are at an impasse. It appears you do not understand this process very well. Forgive me if this appears harsh, but are you sure you're qualified to serve on a board of education? Your post is laden with pure rhetoric.
Well said, technokat.
School negotiations are an adversarial process where the school board should–if it wasn't hamstrung by ridiculous bargaining constraints–be a powerful brake against the unfettered demands of the unions.
That said, the unions have every right to formulate and press for contract provisions that may benefit their members to the detriment of all other stakeholders in the schools.
What we don't need are folks like Gates and Broad who use their financial resources to impose their “solutions” without proper vetting and any respect for accepted processes of government and bargaining.
Our host on this blog is an obvious fan of these procedural “shortcuts”.
Technokat, the quote was not written by me, but by Adam Ozimek.
Thank you for your response, and for providing this blog.
However, your rebuttal of my comment appears to place the position in question on someone else and not yourself. By stating the fact that someone else wrote it, are you not insinuating that this is not your position?
In fact, you left that part of the quote as the final statement with no commentary by you at all. This tactic speaks to where you stand on the issue. Along with words like “fascinating and respectful analysis” to describe Ozimek's comments and “hyperbole and one-sidedness of a teacher's union spokesperson” to describe Ravitch, you clearly show bias against teachers unions.
Without rebuttal, it appears that you agree with these words. Dropping someone else's words and leaving the conversation does not promote discussion.
Say something to the contrary or it will be believed that you agree that “powerful teachers unions” should be “subject to public oversight.”
It's probably better to adopt the position that you do not criticize a body of people whose intentions are transparent and with whom you may have to bargain in good faith. If I was a union member who had to negotiate with your school board, I would believe that you had a bias against teachers unions from your posting. I'm not sure this is a position you would want to take as a school board member, as it is a strong example of bad politics.